Loving A Little Love From Kirkus, indieBRAG, et al.

photoart by Brenda Perlin
OK, remember my
last post, about the “necessary evils of self-promotion”? Well, here we go, right here… sit back and enjoy a little “sonata for horn ensemble”…

When I was prepping for the launch of my latest book, Hysterical Love, I approached it with more forethought than was applied to my first book, After The Sucker Punch. Despite that book doing remarkably well (and still doing remarkably well) via my own little independent author efforts, this go-around I opted to work with a wonderful publicist, Julie Schoerke at JKSCommunications. She and her team were very helpful in sorting out and working on the most effective options available to me, given my indie status.

Because it does get confusing. For every blog, site, “expert” that tells you to do this or that, another slew will say something akin to the opposite. Additionally, (and I’ve written much on this) the unfathomable glut of indie books, along with the subsequent media nose-sniffing and stereotyping, have conspired to make it difficult for any indie author to leap through the burning hoops requisite for success. But still; we are writers writing books and once you’ve written a book you love, you’re obligated to get it out there and market it into vibrant life, come hell or high water. 

But back to the publicist: amongst the many words of wisdom she imparted during our time together, and after I asked her specifically about industrial-strength review sites like Kirkus and Foreward, she expressed an opinion I was not expecting: go for it, she said. She felt those two, of all the like-options, were valid, bona fide; often very tough, but worth the pursuit in that they have great reach and tremendous influence on what books people pay attention to. So I pursued Kirkus, fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get eviscerated. 

But I did wonder about that purported toughness, because I couldn’t help but notice there are few (if any) negative reviews posted, for example, at Kirkus. Then I discovered that every reviewed author has the option to not publish the review they receive if it’s a negative one… which explains the disproportionately jolly outcome of what’s up there! But what a charitable option, I thought. Who wants a gutting review from one of the biggest book/media resources in the world bouncing all over the internet for the rest of time if there’s an option to opt out? I felt at least assured of having some control over whatever Kirkus outcome came out.

And what came out was a lovely, largely positive review that I’d be happy to share with even my mother! I was delighted, because whatever one thinks of such “shallow pursuits” as reviews (something an acerbic blogger snarked to me once), having positive perspective of your book bandied about is much better than the opposite. Here’s the takeaway quote:

“Wilke is a skilled writer, able to plausibly inhabit Dan’s young male perspective… A well-written, engaging, sometimes-frustrating tale of reaching adulthood a little late.”   

I don’t know about the “frustrating” part (they also took exception with my protagonist’s behavior with a bit more verve than I might’ve, but others have also found him such, so likely I’m biased!). And though I didn’t garner one of their “stars” or “prizes,” I was grateful to get what I got. Yippidy do dah day! May floods of Kirkusian readers come rollin’ my way!  

The other “love” Hysterical Love garnered this week was the very lovely B.R.A.G. Medallion from indieBRAG.com. This acknowledgment is awarded by book clubs and readers affiliated with the site, and it really is quite an honor (my debut novel, After The Sucker Punch, is also a Medallion honoree). The site’s president. Geri Clouston, as well as its most public and passionate voice, Stephanie Moore Hopkins, are incredibly supportive and generous with their “honorees,” and the nod from them and their organization is always a welcomed gift… thank you!

To cap off this utterly self-serving but authentically felt trumpet solo, I’ll end with the other two accolades recently received: a wonderful review from Literary Fiction Book Reviews:

Hysterical Love is a deftly told tale about not only the search for love in the 21st century, but about seeking a greater understanding of the intricacies of the human heart, about love in all its various forms and disguises: puppy love, lost love, emerging love, enduring love, and of course, hysterical love.” (Read more…) 

And another from the sweetly enthusiastic Tracy Slowiak at Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews:

“Oh my, oh my! I just finished reading Hysterical Love, the newest novel by Lorraine Devon Wilke, and I must say, I simply adored it! …I loved this book! Loved, loved, loved it. Wilke’s writing style is witty, pointed and funny, even hilarious at times.” (Read more…)

So yes, a good run.

But here’s the thing: none of this matters if you, the readers, aren’t inspired to get out (or get to your computers) to buy and read said book(s)! What ultimately matters most to me is that reviews and awards spark a, “that sounds good… I have to get a copy” kind of response. Because (and I’m not just saying this!), getting my books into your hands to read and enjoy is the whole gig. THE WHOLE GIG. I’m just here doing my part to make sure you know how wise you’d be to pursue that goal. 🙂

And now I’m done. Thank you for listening and go have a great day. (Damn, my lips hurt!)

Photoart by Brenda Perlin

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Horn-Blowing and Other Necessary Evils of The DIY World

horn blowing

“But enough about me, let’s talk about you… what do YOU think of me?”
— 
Beaches, 1988

I was originally going to title this post: “I Don’t Want To Talk About My Books Anymore!” but figured it might come off as a little whiny. And really, it’s not that I don’t like talking about my books—I LOVE talking about my books—it’s that I get twitchy when I’m the only one doing the talking, flashes of those obnoxious parents endlessly jabbering about their “really cute kids” while everyone smiles tightly and averts their eyes (cannot be one of those!). I’d prefer to talk about my books because other people asked about them; someone else wanted to discuss plot and character, or how to order a dozen or two copies. I’d rather respond to a whole other person tooting that horn than pull out the trumpet myself.

It’s hard out there for a book-pimp.

See, all this self-promotion started when the entire world went DIY some years back, with everyone doing anything and everything for themselves. The trend was seen largely as a positive thing: a democratizing, equalizing, barrier-breaking thing for all those independent people out there with a dream. Writers could put up their own articles, artists and photographers could set up their own blogs to sell their art; businesses and private practitioners could hang shingles in the form of interactive websites, and authors, they self-published. It’s gotten so democratically DIY, I half expect women to start delivering their own babies with headphones and an online tutorial!

And it has been a boon in many ways. The DIY market has allowed countless creators of every industry and medium to move forward without the limitations of picky gatekeepers, elitist corporations, prohibitive budgets, and miserly invitation lists. But where it’s proven challenging is in the wrangling (i.e., affording) of ancillary team-members who typically help creators move, sell, and promote their products. The horn-tooters, trumpet blowers, PR flacks, publicity people. And while there is not one “self-anything” who doesn’t need those people doing those jobs, a big fat contingent can’t afford them.

A full-time publicist for any business typically costs thousands of dollars a month, sometimes many thousands. A big-ticket item. But smaller marketing and promotional campaigns can also run into many hundreds of dollars and must be cyclically and consistently rerun to be effective. Even artists lucky enough to be affiliated with “umbrella” companies that provide some marketing and promotional support will find they’re obligated to implement those efforts on their own time and their own dollar. In other words, no matter where you fall on the “self” spectrum, you’re pulling that horn out of the closet.

And doing my own trumpet-blowing has always made me a little queasy.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of eleven children where one had to leap up and down and wave their arms to get any kind of non-generic, “oh, I see you” attention, but I find the “leaping” necessary to self-promotion (particularly in the glutted indie book market) to be oddly demeaning. Instead of your work drawing people to you while you stand there being quietly brilliant, you’re obligated to chase after them like a panting schoolgirl trying to snag the interest of the most popular guy (switch genders as applicable). Beyond that, it sometimes feels too self-focused, too attention-grabbing, too… I dunno… creatively narcissistic. I’d prefer that the work itself, or someone with excellent trumpet skills, speak for me.

But there’s no choice. As indie artists, we not only have to do the job, we have to be indefatigable about finding new and clever ways to get it done. There are thousands of businesses and websites out there tooting their horns in hopes we’ll hire them to help toot ours (sort of a DIY Circle of Life), but the costs can run anywhere from cheap (various “tweet your book” sites, featured pages, book-of-the days sorts of things) to downright expensive (Book Bub, Foreward and Kirkus reviews, online ads), and some, but very few, are free. Often you pay loads of money to set up sales in which you give your books away for free or very cheaply (always an odd oxymoron), and given the “effective marketing = persistent marketing” equation, even the most economical campaigns will add up.

So where do indie creators with limited budgets go? To social media, of course! It’s not only what’s left to them once they’ve tapped-out their budgets, it’s the information highway everyone uses, regardless of product. Which means social media is regularly BOMBARDED with streaming posts from all sorts of people touting the “latest with my fill in the blank (book, band, record, art, store, tour, company, etc.),” and, in some cases, that’s all they ever post. About their book. Their record. Their tour. Their whatever.

We get no other insight from them, no other angle on their personality or point of view; they don’t connect to or comment on other people’s posts, and far too often, their only contribution to the greater conversation is about that _________ they’ve created. Which makes their social interaction akin to turning a coffee shop into a billboard.

So my remedy, since we’ve got to do this horn-blowing thing whether we want to or not, is this: Get involved with other people, share about more than your own creation; “like” posts other people put up, jump in on a thread or two. Be human. Be interested. Be involved. So when you do talk about your whatever, we’re interested because we’re interested in you… and you’ve shown some interest in us. It’s an all-around happy social media thing, as it should be.

And until a scenario involving an enthusiastic horn blower comes my way, know I’ll be doing it for myself on social media too. Graciously, I hope. Forgive me if I ever seem redundant or one-note; if I ask too many times for you to reiterate your wonderful email response in a review at Amazon, or push too hard to get you out to a reading. I’m obligated to honor my work by wearing this hat, blowing this horn, but know I’m trying to be nuanced and selective about the notes. This thing is tricky, but I’ve heard practice makes perfect!

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.